How Do You Treat Cannabis Pollen

focus shot of cannabis pollen

Cannabis pollen is both revered and feared to treat the cannabis pollen depending on the type of grower. Although not ideal for consumption purposes, cannabis pollen is essential for breeding strains at home and is a viable way to preserve genetics.

What Is Cannabis Pollen and What Is Its Function?

All plants that flower, including cannabis, produce pollen, which is a fine dust-like substance. The primary function of pollen is to fertilize other plants within the same species.1

close up shot of cannabis plant with pollen sacks

How and When Is Cannabis Pollen Released?

The male cannabis plant forms pollen sacs, which are its reproductive structures. These sacs appear at the nodes, where the stems, leaves, and branches intersect, during the late vegetative stage. When the male plant matures, typically 4 to 5 weeks into the flowering phase, these sacs burst open and release pollen. This pollen is carried by the wind and lands on a female cannabis plant, resulting in fertilization.

How to Harvest Cannabis Pollen

To harvest cannabis pollen, follow these straightforward steps:

  1. Spot the Male Plants: The male cannabis plants are the pollen producers. Look for their pollen sacs, which are tiny, round structures located where the leaf stems join the main stem.

  2. Timing is Key: The formation of pollen sacs begins a few weeks into the flowering cycle. Wait until these sacs start to split open, as this is the point when the pollen is most potent.

  3. Gather the Pollen: After the sacs have opened, it’s time to collect the pollen. This can be achieved by lightly shaking the plant over a clean, dry surface, allowing the pollen to fall out.

  4. Proper Storage: Once collected, keep the pollen in a cool, dry location. If stored correctly, it can stay viable for up to a year.

Remember, careful handling of cannabis pollen is important as it can easily spread and unintentionally fertilize female plants.

Young woman harvesting cannabis buds

How to Store Cannabis Pollen

To ensure the viability of cannabis pollen, proper storage is key. Here’s how to do it:

  1. Gather the Pollen: When the pollen sacs open, collect the pollen by lightly shaking the plant over a clean, dry surface.

  2. Dry the Pollen: Let the gathered pollen dry for approximately a week. This step is crucial in reducing moisture and preventing mold formation.

  3. Storage in a Cool, Dry Place: Once dried, keep the pollen in a cool, dry area. An airtight container is recommended to shield it from moisture and air exposure2.

  4. Long-Term Storage: For extended storage periods, consider refrigerating or freezing the pollen. Ensure it’s thoroughly dry before doing so to avoid ice crystal formation.

Keep in mind that while pollen can stay viable for a couple of weeks in open air, proper storage can extend its viability up to a year.

Common Uses Of Cannabis Pollen

  1. Home Breeding: It’s crucial for breeding cannabis strains at home, offering a practical method for genetic preservation.

  2. New Strain Development: Breeders utilize cannabis pollen to generate new plants and crossbreed strains, creating new cultivars.3

  3. Concentrate Production: Cannabis pollen makes concentrates like hash and rosin.

  4. Topical Applications: It’s also incorporated into producing topical items such as balms and salves.

  5. Culinary Uses: For extra flavor and nutrition, pollen can be added to baking or cooking recipes4.

Side Effects Of Handling Cannabis Pollen

  1. Respiratory Issues: Breathing in cannabis pollen may result in allergic rhinitis, conjunctivitis, and asthma symptoms. These can include a dry cough, nasal congestion, itchy eyes, nausea, red or watery eyes, a runny nose, sneezing, and an itchy or sore throat.5

  2. Skin Reactions: Contact with cannabis can also trigger contact dermatitis, a condition characterized by blisters, dry skin, hives, itchiness, and red, inflamed skin.

  3. Severe Allergic Reactions: In rare cases, exposure to cannabis can cause a severe allergic reaction known as anaphylaxis. This life-threatening condition can develop within seconds or minutes of allergen exposure and is marked by symptoms such as difficulty breathing, dizziness, fainting, itchy, flushed, pale skin, low blood pressure, a swollen tongue or throat, a weak and rapid pulse, and vomiting.

Safety Measures

For those who frequently handle cannabis plants, it’s advised to take certain precautions. Wearing gloves and face masks is recommended, as is the use of allergy medication to mitigate or prevent symptoms. It’s also suggested to have an inhaler in case the pollen affects your respiratory system.

wearing gloves for certain precautions


Handling cannabis pollen requires a clear understanding of its role, knowledge of its release timing, proficiency in proper harvesting techniques, and correct storage methods. It’s important to always take safety measures when dealing with cannabis pollen to avoid any negative reactions.


Does cannabis pollen have THC?
Cannabis pollen itself does not contain significant amounts of THC. It’s the female cannabis plants that produce the buds rich in THC.
Can you use expired cannabis pollen for breeding?
While older pollen may still be used for breeding, its viability decreases over time. This means that the likelihood of successful fertilization may be reduced with aged pollen.
How can you differentiate male from female cannabis plants?
Male cannabis plants produce pollen sacs, which are round and appear at the nodes of the plant. Female plants produce pistillate structures, commonly called “calyxes,” that are more tear-shaped, with hair-like structures called “pistils” protruding from them.
Is it possible to identify the strain of cannabis from its pollen alone?
No, the specific strain of a cannabis plant cannot be determined from its pollen alone without advanced genetic testing.


  1. “Cannabis Pollen: When, Why, and How to Use It – RQS Blog.” Royal Queen Seeds, Accessed 8 Oct. 2023. ↩︎
  2. “How to Store Marijuana Pollen: Shelf Life, Tips & More.” PotGuide, Accessed 8 Oct. 2023. ↩︎
  3. “Weed Pollen: When, Why & How to Use It | Homegrown Cannabis Co.”, Accessed 8 Oct. 2023. ↩︎
  4. “Understanding Cannabis Pollen and How to Use It – United S.”, 30 Jan. 2023, Accessed 8 Oct. 2023. ↩︎
  5. “Allergic to Marijuana: Symptoms, Causes, and Diagnosis.”, 3 Aug. 2018, Accessed 8 Oct. 2023. ↩︎
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